French writers

Julien Blanc-Gras – 2024

Julien Blanc-Gras – 2024

Julien Blanc-Gras is a writer, traveller, journalist, and father, and has explored the four corners of the world, drawing inspiration from his journeys for many of his works.

His debut book, Gringoland, was awarded at the First Novel Festival in Chambéry in 2005. Among his other works are Paradise (before Liquidation) and A Bit of a Special Envoy, written during the lockdown to counter the prevailing atmosphere.

He has also contributed extensively to the print media, with publications in renowned outlets such as M le magazine du Monde, L’Obs, Philosophie magazine, Le Temps, Le 1, Long cours, Aller-Retour, GQ, Technikart, and Grazia. He is also a presence on Radio France with the podcast Oli and a travel column on France Inter, as well as on Radio Nova with a literary column.

Following the birth of his son and his account of his experiences during his partner’s pregnancy in In Utero, he was entrusted with a column in Parents magazine. In his novel Like in War, he continues to explore the theme of fatherhood in our modern world.

Sedef Ecer – 2023

Sedef Ecer – 2023

Sedef-Ecer. Photo by Brigitte Baudesson

Born in Istanbul, Sedef Ecer grew up in the world of movie-making, theatre and television. Her latest book, Trésor national, was published by JC Lattès in 2021. She writes in different genres and in two languages: she has written more than 500 articles or opinion pieces for the press, novels, screenplays, explored new genres and translated Montaigne, Charlotte Delbo and Saint-Exupery’s works into Turkish.

As a writer and actress, Sedef Ecer has been a nominee or a recipient of prestigious awards. (French National Center of Theater, French National Center of Cinema, Beaumarchais Award, French Society of Multimedia Writers, Draft of a Dream, Velasquez Price, Writing Stipend of Paris Region, National Theater Award of Guérande, High School Students Favorite Play, nominated for Godot Award, Collidram Award, Best Television Comedy La Rochelle Festival) She is one of the founders of Parlement des Écrivaines Francophones.

Her major work is in the field of theatre. Her plays have been performed in numerous theatres and festivals in different countries, published, awarded and translated into Polish, Turkish, Armenian, German, Greek, English, Persian and Italian. As an actress, she has played in feature films and several plays since she was three years old and has worked recently under the directions of Amos Gitaï (with Jeanne Moreau), Lorenzo Gabriel and Thomas Bellorini.

During her stay in Wellington, she hopes to explore an exciting subject: a novel that will focus on the role of New Zealand and Turkish women and the fighting at Gallipoli – her parents live close to the site, and the project is something she has had in mind for some years.

 

Stuff, 05/03/2023: Turkish-born novelist in NZ to research women and Gallipoli

Watch Sedef Ecer – an interview at Randell Cottage, from the French Embassy in Aotearoa New Zealand
Caroline Laurent – 2022

Caroline Laurent – 2022

Photo by Philippe Matsas

Born in 1988 and of French-Mauritian origins, Caroline grew up between French Polynesia, Bordeaux, Italy and Paris, where she currently resides. She still travels regularly to Mauritius to visit her maternal family.

Caroline is a graduate of modern French literature and has been an editor for the past 12 years (JC Lattès, Les Escales, Stock). Her areas of interest include contemporary literature and non-fiction.

Following the success of And suddenly, Freedom, co-written with Evelyne Pisier (80,000 copies sold, and awarded Prix Marguerite Duras and Grand Prix des Lycéennes ELLE 2018), in 2020 she released her second novel, The Shores of Anger (Prix Maison de la Presse 2020) in which she pursues her exploration of the colonial world and the lives of prominent women who have shaped history.

Her feminist convictions and commitment to fighting for what she believes in, led her to establish an opinion column against sexual violence in the publishing industry, bringing together 50 literary figures.

Read Caroline’s full report on her stay here: en français / in English

Caroline Laurent – an interview at Randell Cottage, from the French Embassy in Aotearoa New Zealand

Watch the extended interview.

Amaury da Cunha – 2020

Amaury da Cunha – 2020

Photo of Amaury da CunhaWith a speech therapist mother and a photographer father, it was perhaps almost inevitable that writer and photographer Amaury da Cunha would grow up with a deep understanding of the power of words and images.

Born in Paris, Amaury da Cunha studied modern literature before pursuing photography at the École nationale supérieure de la photographie in Arles. He combines both interests in his work as a photo editor for Le Monde’s literary supplement, in his own writing and exhibitions, and in collaborative projects with other writers and photographers.

His first book, Saccades, a collection of images and texts, was published by Yellow Now. Après tout was released by Caillou Bleu in November 2012, which coincided with his first personal exhibition in Paris for Photography Month. 2015 saw the publication of two books: Fond de l’œil (Roergue), a collection of short texts (odes, meditations, love stories…) on photography; and Incidences (Filigranes), a second collection of images and texts. The autofiction Histoire souterraine (Rouergue) was published in 2017 and followed a year later by Demeure (H’artpon), a book of images accompanied by texts written by Sylvie Gracia.

His photography has been exhibited throughout France and in Belgium.

Amaury da Cunha’s Randell project is an exploration of the life of Minnie Dean, the late nineteenth-century baby farmer who was convicted of infanticide and hanged.

Further reading

Karin Serres – 2019

Karin Serres – 2019

© Bertrand Couderc

Karin Serres, the Randell Cottage’s 2019 French resident is a novelist, a playwright, for stage and radio, and a translator. She trained as a scenographer and her work with staging and performance turned her to writing. She has written over 80 plays for radio and stage, winning national awards for that work, and has also written children’s picture books and young adult fiction.

Her first novel for adults, Monde sans oiseaux (a world without birds) was published in 2013 and in 2015, she was awarded a French national honour – Chevalier des artes et lettres – for her contribution to literature.

Karin’s Randell project is a sequel to her 2018 novel, Happa no ko le peuple de feuilles (Happa no ko the leaf people). She says that writing somewhere else, in an unknown place, is one of her favourite sources of creative energy, that her work thrives on new perspectives.

In this interview, recorded by the communications team of the Embassy of France in New Zealand at the mid-point of her residency, Karin talks about her work and her interest in New Zealand.

Amélie Lucas-Gary – 2018

Amélie Lucas-Gary – 2018

Photo of Amélie Lucas-GaryPhotographer-turned-writer Amélie Lucas-Gary is the Randell Cottage’s French writer in residence for 2018. Born in 1982, in Arcachon in France’s South West, she studied at the Sorbonne, graduating with degrees win cinema and history, and photography at the National School of Photography in Arles.

With two novels published so far, most of her work is now literary. The first, Grotte (Cave), published in 2014, is narrated by the guardian of the Lascaux caves. Isolated on the top of a small hill, between the cave and its replica, the narrator spins a story in which reality and fantasy meld and intertwine.

2017 saw the release of Vierge (Virgin), which tells the journey of Emmanuelle who has become pregnant without ever having had sex. She travels across an imaginary France creating disorder and mass hysteria along the way.

Lucas-Gary creates contemporary myths with a poetic and metaphoric language, playing with time and space and inviting her readers to distance themselves from the present and reality.

She is regularly commissioned by visual artists to write poetic texts to accompany their work and will be working on one such project while in Wellington. Her priority though, is a novel, Hic (Here), which she describes as an archaeological work set in the Randell Cottage and travelling back through time, into the Cottage’s imagined past. Five stories will be connected by fragments the narrator finds on the Cottage’s site: a shard of willow patterned china, a fossil, a bone, a jade pendant…

Josef Schovanec – 2017

Josef Schovanec – 2017

Photo of Josef SchovanecJosef Schovanec is a writer, polyglot and activist for autistic people who has published four books including Voyages en Autistan – Travels in Autistan (Plon, Paris) and Je Suis à l’Est !, the first memoir by an autistic person to be released by a major French publisher. His Randell Cottage book project focusses on developing a fictional narrative based on the story of an autistic friend’s journeys and research in the Pacific.

Josef was born in 1981 in the greater Paris region to Czech immigrant parents. After completing a degree at L’Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Paris Institute of Political Studies, he studied Hebrew, Sanskrit, Persian, Amharic, Azeri, Azerbaijani and Ethiopian at the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilisations), on top of the Czech, German, Finnish and English, which he speaks fluently. His doctoral research, at the École des hautes etudes en sciences sociales (School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences), investigated the success Martin Heidegger’s philosophy enjoyed in France.

Nicolas Fargues – 2016

Nicolas Fargues – 2016

Photo of Nicolas FarguesThe 2016 French writer in residence is Nicolas Fargues, author of ten novels including J’étais derrière toi – I was Behind You (Pushkin Press, London) – which has been translated into fifteen different languages.  Fargues was born in 1972 in the Paris region and spent his childhood between Cameroon, Lebanon and Corsica. He studied modern French literature at La Sorbonne University and completed his master’s thesis on the life and work of Egyptian author Georges Henein. Fargues’ first novel Le Tour du propriétaire was published in 2000. He has worked in Indonesia, Paris, Yaoundé and Madagascar.

Nicolas has published two books drawn from his stay in New Zealand: Écrire à l’élastique (2017), an exchange of fictional letters with writer Iegor Gran, and Je ne suis pas une heroine (2018), a novel.

Nicolas is now based in Dunedin, where he is pursuing a doctorate in Francophone literature at the University of Otago.

David Fauquemberg – 2015

David Fauquemberg – 2015

Born in 1973, David Fauquemberg lives in the Cotentin area of Normandy. A novelist, he has published work in magazines such as XXI, Géo and Long Cours. He is also a translator (of Nadine Gordimer, R. L. Stevenson, James Meek, Willy Vlautin). The travel bug bit while he was studying literature, taking him to Patagonia and Lappland and sailing across the Atlantic. He went on to taught philosophy for a few months, before hitting the road again and spending two years in Australia. This provided the inspiration for his first novel, Nullarbor (Hoëbeke, 2007), winner of the Nicolas Bouvier Prize for travel writing. Mal tiempo (Fayard, 2009), which has a boxing theme and is set in Cuba, was awarded the Millepages Prize, the Prix des Hebdos en Région Prize and the City of Caen Prize. Manuel el Négro, published by Fayard in 2013, is the result of a long stay in the world of Andalucia’s flamenco gypsies.

David’s Randell project, Bluff, was published by Stock in January 2018. Photo by Christine Tamalet.

Thanh-Van Tran-Nhut – 2014

Thanh-Van Tran-Nhut – 2014

Photo of Thanh-Van Tran-NhutThanh-Van Tran-Nhut was born in Hue, Viet-Nam, in 1962. Her family moved to the US in 1968, then three years later moved to France. After finishing high school in France, she went back to the US to attend university. Thanh-Van earned a BA in Math and Physics from Whitman College and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology.

She worked several years in France before starting to write, with her sister Kim, the story of a detective, Mandarin Tan, set in 17th century Viet-Nam. They wrote two novels together before Tanh-Van kept the series going on her own. It proved successful and several of the books have been translated into Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Russian and German.

Thanh-Van’s Randell project ‘Kawekaweau’ (Au Vent des Iles, 2017) is the story of a scientist who receives a package and a challenge from a former girlfriend: his task? to unravel the engima of the kawekaweau, the giant gecko of Maori myth.

Further reading